BRUSSELS – The EU Biofuel Technology Platform (EBTP) held a stakeholder conference last Wednesday in Brussels to discuss progress forward for biofuels in Europe, and attendees heard strong recommendations for further research and development investment into algae and marine plants and other bio-energy sources, projects Bellona has long been promoting.
The EU is witnessing growing optimism surrounding the role of biofuels as a key complementary solution to climate change. This was emphasized last Wednesday, when major players in the EU biofuels market gathered for the annual conference organized by EBTP.
The role of EBTP is to advise the European Commission on the issues and technologies that should be prioritized within biofuel research. The platform is composed mainly of industry stakeholders, but also research institutes. Bellona is the only NGO on the board and in several of the working groups.
Focusing on new areas
The EBTP presented their new research recommendations to the European Commission during the conference. The recommendations were an extension of those put forward in 2008.
“It is especially important that the Platform has expanded its work from being focused on biofuels for land-based transportation to including marine and air transport, ” explained Tone Knudsen, responsible for biofuels at Bellona.
“The technology is still the main focus, but the importance of producing and using biomass in a sustainable manner was today emphasized even more strongly than in 2008”, she continued.
Bellona has argued that there is a strong need for a holistic approach regarding the use of different types of biomass. The sustainable supply of biomass feedstocks is limited despite an increasing demand for biomass. This means that a holistic prioritization of where and how Europe should use their sustainably produced biomass resources is required.
This perspective was particularly emphasized by Bellona president Frederic Hauge during his participation in the panel discussion on sustainability.
The attendees also heard that industry is gradually beginning to think about the use of biomass from a more exhaustive and generalized perspective.
“A biofuel producer will always produce more than just fuel due to the complexity of biomass production. To create a robust, profitable and environmentally friendly biofuel production it is essential to focus on the entire value chain,” explained Knudsen.
“In order for biofuels to be sustainable, we must be confident that the biomass is used correctly, ” emphasized Bellona president Frederic Hauge.
Reaping the benefits
Bellonas involvement in the platform is producing results.
“We have now received approval for our proposal to establish a working group to look at sustainable production of algae and marine plants, so you can increase the supply of sustainable biomass feedstocks, ” says Knudsen.
This was also one of the main topics during the conference. The Platform recommended that further research in this area should be undertaken in order to realize large-scale production of algae and marine plants for use in bioenergy production.
Bellona believes that this is an essential component of the global fight against climate change.